Category Archives: Uncategorized

Crime Fiction News Break


Links You’ll Want:

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

Edgar Award Winners 

J.P. Choquette

Let the Dead Rest

St. Hilda’s Crime Fiction Weekend

Killer Nashville



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List of Contents

Flash fiction is getting more and more popular. And it takes all sorts of forms. For instance, FitfulFearfulPhantasmal has posted an intriguing story told in lists. At the end of this excellent post (g’wan, go check it out!) is an invitation to the reader to try an original story told that way.

I couldn’t resist this invitation, so……

Here is an official list of some of the items found in the condominium owned by a murder victim, who died of strangulation. I have an idea in my mind of what happened, but there’s more than one possible interpretation here. Once you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what happened:


Found in the Condominium of Janice Draper (Professional Name: Rose Dawn)

On and Near Coffee Table in Living Room

1. Bottle of Chandon Reserve Blanc de Blancs, half empty
2. One champagne flute, knocked over on table (NB: Another champagne flute found smashed on floor beneath table)
3. Small plate (NB: mixed nuts found scattered on floor near table)
4. Samsung Galaxy S9 phone, smashed
5. Gold tie pin front, initial H, found beneath sofa

In Dish Drainer by Kitchen Sink

1. Two plates
2. Two forks

In Drawstring Kitchen Trash Bag

1. Receipt from Victoria’s Secret – $325.00
2. Victoria’s Secret bag, empty
3. Two empty boxes from Bombay Magic restaurant
4. Two used napkins
5. One used condom
6. Three orange peels
7. One empty tissue box
8. One empty acetaminophen bottle
9. One prepaid Samsung Galaxy Express Prime 2 phone, smashed

Thanks, FitfulFearfulPhantasmal, for the inspiration!


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She Was a Friend to Me When I Needed One*

Among the many things I really like about blogging is that I’m always getting excellent suggestions for books to read. Modern social media lets all of us in the blogosphere share our recommendations (and our DNFs), no matter where we live. My TBR list doesn’t get any shorter, but I don’t mind.

Two bloggers who made a really positive difference in my reading (and in my life) were Maxine Clarke and Bernadette Bean. They both wrote fine book reviews, and were always supportive of quality fiction, even if the author wasn’t a ‘household name.’ Speaking personally, they were both always supportive of both my blogging and my writing. I feel privileged to have counted both as friends.

Sadly, Maxine passed away at the end of 2012, and Bernadette passed away earlier this year. I miss them both very much, and I suppose I always will. I know that the many other friends they made, both in their personal lives and in the blogosphere, miss them, too.

As a way of remembering Maxine, and of celebrating her commitment to excellent crime fiction, Bernadette created a terrific site, Petrona Remembered. The idea was that we might use that site for sharing our reviews of great crime novels. Then, Bill Selnes, who blogs at Mysteries and More From Saskatchewan, took that idea a step further. His idea was that we recommend crime novels that Maxine would have liked, and that our reviews could go up on Petrona Remembered. We would take turns contributing our recommendations, one each month, to the site. That way, there would always be lots of terrific crime fiction ideas for readers to try. And, different bloggers would share their own viewpoints, so there’d also be a variety of perspectives.

I think Bill had an excellent idea, and I hope you do, too. Maxine and Bernadette are no longer with us, but their legacy of fine crime fiction reviews, and support of crime fiction, still is. So is Petrona Remembered. If you’d like to contribute a review of a fine crime novel, it’s easy to do. Just email me (margotkinberg(at)gmail(dot)com) your review, and I’ll do the rest. And, please, don’t worry if you didn’t know Maxine or Bernadette. We’d still love to get your recommendations!


NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Jackson Browne’s That Girl Could Sing.


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Roadside Assistance

The heat prickled the back of Jessica’s neck, and coiled the hair at her temples into little curls. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be much longer. This wasn’t really a busy road. There were trees, bushes and fields on both sides of it, but not many houses, and no businesses. It was hard to say how long she’d have to put up with the sweat and the bugs before someone came along.  Wait – was that dark blue Acura slowing down? Yes, it was! Finally! Jessica waved her arms frantically.

Phil saw the young woman staring ruefully at her car’s engine. It wasn’t safe, being stranded by the side of the road. Especially if you were a woman. And it looked as though she was going to be there for a while. He slowed down a little to get a closer look at what was going on. When the woman saw him, she waved to get his attention. She didn’t look hurt, just upset and frustrated. Her engine must have died or something. Whatever it was, she was stuck. He slowed down more and pulled his Acura to a stop behind her Honda. Then he rolled his window down a little and called out, ‘You OK?’

‘Thank God you stopped!’ Jessica stepped closer to the Acura’s window. ‘I stopped to make a call, and I couldn’t start my car again. I think its battery died. Do you by any chance have some jumper cables?’ She brushed the damp hair out of her eyes and watched the driver anxiously. He looked clean and seemed friendly enough. Maybe this would work out.

After a moment, the driver nodded. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘I have some cables. Let me turn my car around so we’re nose to nose. By the way, I’m Phil.’
Jessica nodded. ‘I really appreciate this, Phil!’ she said. She walked back towards her car as he started the Acura’s engine and slowly turned the car around. Roadside gravel crunched under the wheels as he made a tight, careful U-turn. Fortunately, traffic wasn’t a problem as he jockeyed the car into position.

Travis stood less than sixty feet away from where the two people were fiddling around with the cars. He was hidden behind some bushes, waiting until the right moment. The man got out of the Acura. Step One. Travis watched as he pulled a set of jumper cables out of the back of his car. He carried them over to the Honda, and the two drivers talked for a moment. No, not quite time yet. It was tempting, though. He was going to have to teach himself to be more patient. It was better to wait. Timing was everything. Do anything at the wrong moment, and you were finished.

Within a few moments, the cables were attached. ‘Let me check the connections real quick,’ Phil said.
Jessica nodded, ‘OK.’
He turned towards his car and started to bend over the battery.

Now! Travis’ brain screamed. He rushed out from behind the tree and sprinted towards the Acura. Jessica screamed and ran behind her car as the hammer hit Phil in the head. He staggered a moment, and then collapsed onto the ground.

Travis glanced around and went through Phil’s pockets, pulling out a wallet and a telephone. He stuffed them into his own jacket pockets and looked around again. Then, he opened up the Acura’s doors. Bingo! A laptop in the front passenger seat. He grabbed the computer and slammed the door shut with the end of his jacket. He unhooked the jumper cables from the two car batteries, tossing them on the ground near the Acura. After another look to be sure nobody was paying attention, he called out, ‘Let’s go.’

Jessica came out from behind the Honda, hopped into the driver’s seat and effortlessly started the motor. Travis jumped into the passenger seat as the car pulled away. He glanced into the rearview mirror and watched the blue Acura and the man on the ground beside it grow smaller.

‘Let’s get back to the hotel,’ Travis said after a minute or two. ‘Then tomorrow we hit the other side of town.’
‘Sounds good,’ Jessica agreed ‘What’d we get?’
‘A laptop, a phone.’ Travis opened Phil’s wallet and rifled through it. ‘Fifty bucks and a couple of credit cards in here. Not too shabby.’
‘You didn’t hit him too hard, did you?’
‘Nah, he’ll have a hell of a headache when he wakes up, but he ought to be OK.’
‘You sure?’
‘Yeah, I’m sure. And there’s nothing we can do about it, anyway. You want to wait around and get the cops involved?’
Jessica shook her head. ‘No, it’s just…Why’d you have to use a hammer? What if he’s dead?’
‘Stop worrying, OK? I didn’t hit him that hard. He’ll be fine. And we got some decent stuff.’
Jessica looked over at Travis and gave him a sideways smile. ‘Yeah, guess we did. You know, you’re pretty good at this for just starting out.’
‘You aint seen nothing.’


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Did You Ever Have to Finally Decide?*

If you’re kind enough to read this blog regularly, then you’ll know that I’ve been privileged to serve on the panel for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel. This year’s finalists for that prestigious award have been selected, and I’m excited and pleased to share the results with you:


The Sound of Her Voice – Nathan Blackwell  

The blurb:

For Detective Matt Buchanan, the world is a pretty sick place. He has probably been in the job too long, for one thing. And then there’s 14-year-old Samantha Coates, and the other unsolved murder cases. Those innocent girls he just can’t get out of his head. When Buchanan pursues some fresh leads, it soon becomes clear he’s on the trail of something big. As he pieces the horrific crimes together, Buchanan finds the very foundations of everything he once believed in start to crumble. He’s forced across that grey line that separates right and wrong – into places so dark, even he might not make it back.


Marlborough Man – Alan Carter

The blurb:

Sergeant Nick Chester is in hiding after an undercover job gone wrong. If the rivers aren’t flooded and the land hasn’t slipped, the Marlborough Sounds can be paradise. Unless a ruthless man with a grudge is coming for you, in which case remote beauty has its own kind of danger. While Nick waits for his past to catch up with him, he and his colleague Constable Latifa Rapata spend their days patrolling for speeding motorists and trigger-happy hunters. But there’s a predator at large, snatching children off the streets and it’s not long before the press give him a name – the Pied Piper … [a] story about being the hunter and the hunted, and about what happens when evil takes hold of a small town.


A Killer Harvest – Paul Cleave

The Blurb:

A new thriller from the Edgar-nominated author of Trust No One and Joe Victim about a blind teenager who receives a corneal donation and begins to see and feel memories from their previous owner—a homicide detective who was also his father.

Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It’s taken loved ones from him, it’s robbed him of his eyesight, and it’s the reason why his father is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman.

Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: an operation that will allow him to see the world through his father’s eyes. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what these eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. What exactly was his dad up to in his role as a police officer?

There are consequences to the secret life his father was living, including the wrath of a man hell bent on killing, a man who is drawing closer and closer to Joshua.

Joshua soon discovers a world darker than the one he has emerged from…


The Hidden Room – Stella Duffy

The blurb:

Life is good for Laurie and Martha. They have three great kids, a much-loved home in the countryside, and after years of struggle, Laurie’s career as an architect is taking off at last. Everything’s perfect.

Except, it isn’t.

Someone is about to walk into their happy family and tear it apart.

Laurie has been hiding from him for years. The question is, now that he’s found her, can she keep her family safe? And just how far will she go to protect them?


Tess – Kirsten McDougall

The blurb:

In the silence she could hear the oncoming hum, like a large flock approaching. She didn’t want to hear his story; she’d had enough of them. Tess is on the run when she’s picked up from the side of the road by lonely middle-aged father Lewis Rose. With reluctance, she’s drawn into his family troubles and comes to know a life she never had. Set in Masterton at the turn of the millennium, Tess is a gothic love story about the ties that bind and tear a family apart.


See You in September – Charity Norman

The blurb:

It was supposed to be a short trip – a break in New Zealand before her best friend’s wedding. But when Cassy waved goodbye to her parents, they never dreamed that it would be years before they’d see her again.

Having broken up with her boyfriend, Cassy accepts an invitation to stay in an idyllic farming collective. Overcome by the peace and beauty of the valley and swept up in the charisma of Justin, the community’s leader, Cassy becomes convinced that she has to stay.

As Cassy becomes more and more entrenched in the group’s rituals and beliefs, her frantic parents fight to bring her home – before Justin’s prophesied Last Day can come to pass.


The Ngaio Marsh Awards will be presented on 1 September – watch this space!


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from John Sebastian’s Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind.


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